For Australian Cyclists travelling and touring OS
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My daughter has been given 1 week to plan a cycle touring holiday of Europe for a school assignment. (Clearly the teacher has no idea of what's involved)
She needs help with what sort of places could she stay in England, France, Belgium and Italy. What sort of facilities are available for campers (free camping, caravan parks etc)?
How far in a day she could expect to travel? Terrain? What type of bike would be required?
She would also like to know what landmarks, touristy things there are to do and see in Belgium.
The assignment is a budgeting assignment and she would also like some idea of costs.
If anyone has any links they could post it would also be appreciated.
Just briefly, i did do some touring in the UK and Holland and Luxembourg/Germany/Belgium almost exactly 19 yrs ago
From my recollections backpackers hostels are more practical in England, perhaps because of the prevalent rain.
In holland stayed in several Bed n breakfasts and they were all terrific quality at a reasonable price.
Our last night in Holland was in a camping ground. Cabin sort of like the ones in caravan parks Down under.
Except bedding hire was not an option there so had to sleep in every bit of clothing i had with me.
On the Luxembourg/Gemany border stayed in a "Zimmerfrei" (sort of a mini-bed n breakfast) that seemed like super value for money until we realised it was next door to a nightclub
Somewhere in Belgium the room was overpriced but the Belgium Grand Prix was just over the hill that weekend so was lucky to get any sort of accomodation
City of Bruges in Belgium is a very impressive place to visit, as is Moselle river valley in Germany
Touring in these parts of europe is a bit like australia in that you must be selective about your choice of road.
But In holland there are lots bikepaths that actually go places
Also in holland there are/were ferry services that cost no money
In september 1990 the weather conditions varied from pleasantly hot to cold and rainy.
At this time of year i did not venture into France because time was limited and it might be too hot for comfort.
Italy was too far away for the time available
Easy to do 60 km per day on a lightly loaded touring bike.
More than that and you miss the scenery
Favorite bike - whatever i am riding, as long as it has indexed downtube shifters
We've done a fair amount of touring in europe and am happy to help a bit.
How long is the tour for and what is the budget?
here's a link to my longest tour http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/To ... urope-1989
most people seem to average about 100km a day
here's a shorter tour in France http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/Dordogne
My advice is mainly UK focused, as that's where I'm from, although have toured on mainland Europe (France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, Norway, Switzerland) and Ireland
This is definitely less true now than it used to be. The YHA network has sold off a lot of the unprofitable hostels and are now much more geared to cater for families than they used to be. There is still a good number of them though. The prevalent rain? Its not that wet! They even sell tents in England and Wales you know! When it rains in the UK, you can generally live with it. You might get a bit damp but most of the time, you will not get soaking wet thorugh unless its a particularly wet day or you don't have the gear...
That said, the SE of England is notably drier than much of the rest of the UK. The further north west you go, the wetter it gets, although east coast is normally colder than the west.
Youth hostels in Europe seem to be easier to find and more common than in the UK, although they are more likely to be full of youths (?) while those in the UK are likely to be full of tired hikers.
Free camping is not likely to be an option, it might be alright in Scandinavia and parts of Germany, but most western Europe is too heavily developed / populated for it to be a reliable option for cycle tourists.
You'd want a touring bike proper. Roads across most of western Europe are in very good condition relative to Australian roads. I've only cycled a bit in the east so couldn't generalise about the general state of roads there. A mountain bike would be overkill, and unless you sorted out gear ratios on a road racing bike, you'd probably struggle with the gradients in places - I found that while the hills in France & Italy are much bigger and you appreciate low gearing by the time you get nearer the top, there are some extremely steep hills in the UK. Steeper than anything I came across in the French Alps, particularly Derbyshire and Yorkshire. Cornwall also has some steep buggers.
Landmarks in Belgium? There's Brussels with its Pissing Boy. And Bruges and all the old buildings there. I think its famous for lace making and its canals. Its also quite interesting to pop to the Dutch Belgian border and witness the sudden transition from supermarkets / grocers / butchers / newsagents etc on the Belgian side to hard core porn shops on the Dutch side.
(edit - you might get a good answer if you post the question on the ctc forum - http://forum.ctc.org.uk/)
Thanks for your answers -she handed it in today. I should have put the due date in my original post.
thanks anyway the information you guys posted could be helpful in the future and may be of use to someone else who has to do a similar assignment
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